PORT COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) – While Mobi has a monopoly on the bike share scene in Vancouver proper a new service is coming to other cities in the Metro area.
U-Bicycle started in Victoria last October–it’s now expanding to Port Coquitlam and Port Moody this month and will be in Richmond by the end of September.
The company’s Mia Zhang says they’re different from Mobi because they don’t have physical docking stations, but virtual parking zones instead.
“For all of these three cities, we’ll have virtual parking zones. It’s not the traditional station where you’ll see the huge docks. It’s a technology based parking station,” she says, adding you’ll see a parking sign for U-Bicycle and bike racks.
“You can find the parking zones on your app on your phone. On the app you can see the map that indicates where the parking stations are.”
She says the technology is similar to that of a Car2Go app. Since there’s no docking stations that lock the bikes in place, it begs the question if U-Bicycles could be easily stolen–Zhang says that’s unlikely.
“The bikes are branded–they’re all green ‘U-Bicycles’… It’s quite noticeable that it’s a U-Bicycle bike. And all the bikes have their own smart lock on the back wheel. People can lock the bike after they use it…[Users] manually pull the bolt on the smart lock to lock the bike and then press complete on their phone.”
The lock opens via your phone’s bluetooth.
The best part about getting rid of the docking stations is that it opens up the budget to lower the usage fees for bike share riders.
Off the top, there’s a refundable $50-dollar damage deposit when you sign up with the service. After that, you can choose the pay-as-you-go option ($1 per 30 minutes), buy a day pass ($15) or buy an annual pass ($150 for unlimited 60-minute trips).
As for if the service will creep into Vancouver, Zhang isn’t sure yet. The company will have to see how business goes in the Tri-Cities/Richmond areas and then further talks with the City of Vancouver.